Open That Bottle Night (OTBN)

Barbaresco Cole

For this year's Open That Bottle Night we pulled the cork on a Barbaresco we'd purchased recently from Gary's Wines. We invited another couple, Mike and Kathryn, to share the joy.

We opened with a German Riesling served with an Italian soft cheese made from cow, goat, and sheep's milk. The Riesling had lovely acid balance, bright apple flavors and low sweetness. The cheese was soft and well-ripened, with enough milkfat to counter the chalky texture of its core. Perfect harmony.

For supper, Meg prepared roasted rack of naturally raised Australian lamb with rosemary and garlic. She served it with mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, and crusty bread. The idea was to keep the meal simple and let the Barbaresco stand forward.

The wine had a heady nose, with notes of violets, vanilla, and chocolate. "It smells maroon," Kathryn said.  "It's the most fun part," said Steve, and sadly, he was right. The palate was less exuberant, and light on the fruit. Meg got licorice, plus a piny herbaceousness that played beautifully with the rosemary on the lamb. Oaky, but also smooth. The wine, when fully in your mouth, was light and ephemeral, and the fruit was fleeting. The finish was, Steve noted, very Italian: lots of acid, giving you a little bite on its way down.

It was an excellent meal, but the wine was not the centerpiece we had imagined. We have another Barbaresco to try. We'll open that soon and report.

Price: $55

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